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1911 was a great turning point in Canadian affairs. The long reign of Laurier came to an unexpected end, international issues and the assertion of a Canadian identity was front and centre.

Laurier had gone into the election against Borden believing the creation of the Canadian Navy would be a boost to his election chances but Henri Bourassa had campaigned so vigorously against the Act claiming that what it really meant was an active alliance in the Imperial Strategy of Great Britain and as with the Boer War, Canada was going to be dragged into European and other colonial affairs resulting in young Canadians dying and foreign battlefields throughout the world in the name of Britain and the British Empire.  This strategy drained the Liberals of support in Quebec and destroyed their home base of Map's when the election was held.

Reciprocity with the United States had been an issue since the day Canada was formed in 1867 and the US had not been very interested in a deal. By 1911 for various reasons the US stance was beginning to change and they gave indications that they would be open to an opening up of US markets to such items as agricultural produce and livestock. Although Laurier was generally happy with no reciprocity agreements, he did understand that it would greatly benefit the Canadian farmers so an agreement was negotiated and in April of 1911 the US Congress gave its approval to the agreement. Canadian business interests and railway companies swung  into action to try and squash this agreement because it would loosen their control over the famers in Canada. The Conservatives realized that outside of Quebec, they could use the anti-US feelings to turn the reciprocity issue against the Liberals and made that their main plank in Ontario and the Maritimes during the election. The campaign coffers of the Conservatives filled with big business money and the fear factor of US annexation worked. Laurier was portrayed as the French Canadian Prime Minister who was ready to make a deal with the US devil.

The Conservatives won 73 seats in Ontario gained 19 in Quebec for a total of 134 as opposed to the Liberals 87 seats. The Laurier period was over and Robert Borden of the Conservatives was the new Prime Minister. He would not have much time before the great struggle of the First World War was to engulf all in the realm of politics, the economy, social issues and national identity. 1911 was a watershed year.  

By G Scott staff writter,  2012 - - section:eras, subsection Laurier